By Quamar Ashraf
New Delhi: In New India, only hate sells. The ‘nationalists’ – a set of politicians and champions of Hindutva – keep preaching hate against minorities and demonizing freedom fighters, including Father of Nation, all in the pursuit of establishing archaic Hindu Rashtra. Precisely, this is not the threat to the minorities but to the State, to those who govern it.
Back to back two religious conclaves in the states of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh, Hindutva brigades issued an open call to kill Muslims, warn Christians against celebrating their religious festivals, abused Gandhiji and took pledge to establish a Hindu Rashtra.
The hatemongers enjoy full impunity, so it is naïve to expect action against them. They are the law, they are the order; any action against them is tantamount to trigger chaos as to their support people will create law and order problem. The mainstream news outlets have already created a people who are ready to back these monsters.
Every evening, Indian television news anchors disseminate hate-filled message to youth who are ever ready to lap up whatever is offered to them. Not only the TV news outlets, the other communication platforms too offer the same content 24×7 and keep them in standby mode to “fight, die and, if needed, kill” to protect their ‘motherland’ which, of late, has run the risk of being ‘usurped by Muslims, Missionaries, Maoists, Liberals’ – more enemy groups can make it to the list in the days to come. This seems to be the culmination of the fulfillment of the Hindutva project for which the Indian polity over the years either tacitly supported or naively ignored.
The silence of the BJP-ruled government in Uttarakhand is understandable, but the reluctance being shown by the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh is disturbing. The reluctance is pervasive; it has crept into all the democratic institutions. It is not that the institutions have fallen defunct, but they have become selective and stand compromised: prompt in taking action against the weak and vulnerable, but wink their eyes on the crimes committed by the Hindutva goons.
Concerned over the silence of the democratic institutions, dozens of lawyers wrote to the Chief Justice of India to take cognisance of the incidents. The court might issue some order, and some follow-up action can be taken on paper, but people do not expect justice in such cases where ‘Hindutva conscious keepers are involved’. The proposition is based on the state response to the hate-related crimes over the decades. But, there is no refuge for the weak but to pin hope on the country’s highest institution, the Supreme Court, to respond to the crisis. However, the judiciary alone cannot save democracy. Public intellectual Pratap Bhanu Mehta said in an interview, “We should never look to the judiciary to save democracy. If you’re looking to a judiciary to save democracy, chances are you’ve already lost the battle.” Obviously, it is the task of people’s representatives to make democracy strong. The judiciary has its limitations.
Neighbouring Pakistan is a glaring example. Has Pakistan’s Supreme Court stopped the country’s institutions from slipping into the hands of extremists in the 1980s or has it stopped subsequent “Islamisation of institutions” leading to the emergence of religious zealots? Hasn’t Pakistan had to resort to anti-terror operation over a decade ago to fight against the mindset which led to the death of more than 20000 Pakistani people?
Indeed, the monsters created by the dog whistle politics end up killing their creators. Are we turning to the situation? It is increasingly appearing that the falcon cannot hear the falconer anymore.
Indian institutions are, however, sufficiently strong but certainly need political will to respond to the situation.